OF ALL THE DECISIONS YOU’LL MAKE on behalf of your child, what school they’ll attend is probably near the top of the list. If your family is currently searching for the perfect fit, a boots-on-the-ground visit is in order to as certain aspects such as a school’s climate, teaching dynamic, engagement level of the students, and quality of communication and respect between students, teachers, administrators, and parents.
Begin by reading what you can about potential schools online, and talk to other parents. Then contact each school on your list and schedule a tour. There are a few questions you should probably ask.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE SCHOOL
DO YOU HAVE AN EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY OR MISSION?
WHAT’S YOUR TEACHER/STUDENT RATIO?
WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH TO STUDENT DISCIPLINE AND SAFETY?
WHAT’S YOUR PHILOSOPHY/APPROACH TO HOMEWORK? HOW MUCH ARE STUDENTS ROUTINELY ASSIGNED?
WHAT KIND OF LIBRARY RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO STUDENTS?
HOW IS TECHNOLOGY EMPLOYED TO SUPPORT TEACHING AND LEARNING?
HOW DO THE ARTS FIT INTO YOUR CURRICULUM? IS THERE A SCHOOL CHOIR, BAND, OR ORCHESTRA? A DRAMA PROGRAM? ART CLASSES?
WHAT EXTRACURRICULAR OPPORTUNITIES (SPORTS, CLUBS, COMMUNITY SERVICE, COMPETITIONS) ARE AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS, AND CAN STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN MORE THAN ONE?
HOW DO STUDENTS GET TO SCHOOL? IS FREE BUSING AVAILABLE?
IS BULLYING A PROBLEM? IF SO, HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT?
DO YOU OFFER A PROGRAM FOR GIFTED STUDENTS?
HOW DO YOU SUPPORT STUDENTS WITH ACADEMIC, SOCIAL, OR EMOTIONAL DIFFICULTIES?
WHAT STRATEGIES ARE USED TO TEACH STUDENTS WHO AREN’T FLUENT IN ENGLISH?
WHAT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE FOR TEACHERS? IN WHAT WAYS DO YOUR TEACHERS COLLABORATE?
DO YOU OFFER PHYSICAL EDUCATION CLASSES?
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SCHOOL’S GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS? WHAT ARE SOME OF ITS BIGGEST CHALLENGES?
IS THERE AN ACTIVE PTA OR PTO?
ARE PARENTS WELCOME ON CAMPUS, VOLUNTEERING IN THE CLASSROOM, OR LUNCHING WITH THEIR STUDENTS?
HOW DOES THE SCHOOL ENGAGE WITH THE COMMUNITY AND VICE VERSA?
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
DO THE CLASSROOMS AND CAMPUS APPEAR CHEERFUL?
IS STUDENT WORK DISPLAYED, AND DOES IT SEEM APPROPRIATE FOR THE GRADE LEVEL?
ARE TEACHERS ENTHUSIASTIC AND KNOWLEDGEABLE?
DO STUDENTS SEEM ENGAGED?
DOES THE PRINCIPAL SEEM CONFIDENT AND INTERESTED IN INTERACTING WITH STUDENTS, TEACHERS, AND PARENTS?
HOW DO STUDENTS BEHAVE AS THEY MOVE BETWEEN CLASSES OR WHILE PLAYING OUTSIDE?
HOW WELL ARE THE FACILITIES MAINTAINED?
ARE BATHROOMS CLEAN AND WELL SUPPLIED, AND DO THE GROUNDS LOOK SAFE AND INVITING?
QUESTIONS TO ASK AT AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
WHAT ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS SCHOOL’S READING, MATH, SCIENCE, AND SOCIAL STUDIES CURRICULUM?
WHAT CRITERIA ARE USED TO DETERMINE STUDENT PLACEMENT IN CLASSES?
HOW DO YOU KEEP PARENTS INFORMED OF SCHOOL INFORMATION AND ACTIVITIES?
IS QUALITY CHILDCARE AVAILABLE BEFORE AND AFTER SCHOOL?
HOW MUCH OUTDOOR TIME DO KIDS GET EACH DAY?